Coeliac disease (CD) is a chronic inflammatory disorder of the small intestinal mucosa. Scientific evidence supports a role of the gut microbiota in chronic inflammatory disorders; yet information is not specifically available for CD. In this study, a comparative denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis analysis of faecal samples from coeliac children and age-matched controls was carried out. The diversity of the faecal microbiota was significantly higher in coeliac children than in healthy controls. The presence of the species Lactobacillus curvatus, Leuconostoc mesenteroides and Leuconostoc carnosum was characteristic of coeliac patients, while that of the Lactobacillus casei group was characteristic of healthy controls. The Bifidobacterium population showed a significantly higher species diversity in healthy children than in coeliacs. In healthy children, this population was characterized by the presence of Bifidobacterium adolescentis. Overall, the results highlighted the need for further characterization of the microbiota in coeliac patients, and suggested a potential role of probiotics and/or prebiotics in restoring their gut microbial balance
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